What is .. 15 June 2012Posted by marisacat in 2012 Re Election, Culture of Death, DC Politics, Inconvenient Voice of the Voter, Occupy Wall Street, Total fucking lunatics.
From a Guardian gallery of illustrations for The Bloody Chamber
What is left to say?
Maybe it can be stopped but the way things are going, what they don’t get under Clinton (War in Iraq and Afghanistan leading to ever widening war) they get under Bush, what they don’t get under Bush, they get under “the nice black man”, what Slob doesn’t manage to give them (or did not have enough time!) they get under Romney.
Democracy NOW, and I just happened to fall into the show in the middle of the night…
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: We turn now to a controversial trade pact between the United States and eight Pacific nations that until now has remained largely secret. It’s called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP. A chapter from the draft agreement leaked Wednesday outlines how it would allow foreign corporations operating in the United States to appeal key regulations to an international tribunal. The body would have the power to override U.S. law and issue penalties for failure to comply with its rulings.
The agreement is being negotiated by the U.S. trade representative, Ron Kirk, appointed by President Obama. But the newly revealed terms contradict promises Obama made while running for president in 2008. One campaign document read in part, quote, “We will not negotiate bilateral trade agreements that stop the government from protecting the environment, food safety, or the health of its citizens; [or] give greater rights to foreign investors than to U.S. investors.”
AMY GOODMAN: Earlier leaks from the draft Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement exposed how it included rules that could increase the cost of medication and make participating countries adopt restrictive copyright measures.
No one from the U.S. trade representative’s office was able to join us, but in a statement to Democracy Now!, they said, quote, “Nothing in our TPP investment proposal could impair our government’s ability to pursue legitimate, non-discriminatory public interest regulation.”
For more, we’re joined by Lori Wallach, director of the fair trade group Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. The leaked documents were posted on her organization’s website early Wednesday morning.
Lori, welcome to Democracy Now! Explain what the documents show and what this agreement is about.
LORI WALLACH:Well, it’s been branded as a trade agreement, but really it is enforceable corporate global governance. The agreement requires that every signatory country conform all of its laws, regulations and administrative procedures to what are 26 chapters of very comprehensive rules, only two of which have anything to do with trade.
The other 24 chapters set a whole array of corporate new privileges and rights and handcuff governments, limit regulation. So the chapter that leaked—and it’s actually on the website of Citizens Trade Campaign, it’s a national coalition for fair trade—that chapter is the chapter that sets up new rights and privileges for foreign investors, including their right to privately enforce this public treaty by suing our government, raiding our Treasury, over costs of complying with the same policies that all U.S. companies have to comply with. It’s really outrageous.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Lori, there’s been a quite a bit of complaint, even in Congress, about the secretive nature of these continuing negotiations. About 600 or so corporate advisers have access to information that even members of Congress don’t? Could you talk about how that has come about?
LORI WALLACH: Well, this is how you get a text and in a potential agreement that is this outrageous. I mean, this isn’t just a bad trade agreement, this is a one-percenter power tool that could rip up our basic needs and rights. How that happens is the negotiations have been done in total secrecy. So, for two-and-a-half years, until this leak emerged, people have suspected what’s going on, because, as you said, under U.S. law there are 600 official advisers, they have security clearance to see the text, they advise the U.S. position. Meanwhile, the senator, Ron Wyden, who is the chairman of the trade committee in the Senate, the committee with jurisdiction over the TPP, has been denied access to the text, as has his staff, who has security clearance, to a point where this man who has supported agreements like this in the past has filed legislation demanding he have the right to see the agreement that he’s supposed to be having oversight with. He’s on the Intelligence Committee, and he has security clearance, so he can see our nuclear secrets. He just can’t see this corporate bill of rights that is trying to be slipped into effect in the name of being a trade agreement. It’s a very elegant Trojan horse strategy. You brand it one thing, and then you put an agenda that could not survive sunshine into this agreement.
We have been able also to get some of the texts on patents, expanding patents for Big Pharma, jacking up medicine prices. And we have analysis on our website, tradewatch.org, as well as information about how to get involved, because these agreements are a little bit like Dracula. You drag them in the sunshine, and they do not fare well. But all of us, and also across all of the countries involved, there are citizen movements that are basically saying, “This is not in our name. We don’t need global enforceable corporate rights. We need more democracy. We need more accountability.”
AMY GOODMAN: Lori Wallach—
LORI WALLACH: And this agreement is the antithesis.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to read part of the comment we got from the U.S. trade representative’s office when we invited them on today’s show. They wrote, quote, “The Obama Administration has infused unprecedented transparency into the TPP negotiations. We have worked with Members of Congress … [and] invited stakeholders to every round of negotiations where they have given presentations and met with individual negotiating teams. … We are always looking for ways to enhance provisions on transparency and public participation.” Lori Wallach, your comment?
LORI WALLACH: Well, to start with, the idea of transparency of the current negotiators is a one-way mirror. We can basically talk to them and do presentations. But as this leak shows, nothing that the public interest organizations—and it’s a huge array of organizations, from faith groups to consumer groups, environmental, labor—nothing that we have said is now reflected in the U.S. position in this negotiation, which I’m sad to say is the most extreme. I mean, the U.S. is even opposing proposals in this agreement to try and make sure countries have the ability to use financial regulation to ensure financial stability. The U.S. positions don’t reflect what we’ve been saying, but we can talk at them.
But just to put this in perspective, in the last negotiation of a big regional agreement—that was the Free Trade Area of the Americas in the 1990s, 34 countries, very complicated agreement—two years into the negotiation, the entire draft text was published officially by the governments. Here we are, three years into this negotiation with eight countries, and they will not publish a sentence. In fact, it finally leaked that they had signed a special agreement not to release any draft text for four years after negotiations are done—a secrecy agreement on top of the normal secrecy. And when asked, Ron Kirk, the trade representative, why—in the past, the U.S. has sent out draft texts. The WTO, hardly a paradigm of transparency, publishes draft texts. “What the—what’s going on?” he was asked. He said, “Well, in the past, for instance, the Free Trade Area of the Americas, when the text was revealed, we couldn’t finish it.” Now, what sort of indictment is that of what they are doing behind closed doors, that merely allowing the public who will live with the results and Congress to know what’s up is going to somehow derail the plans to lock us in? Because what’s really important to understand about these agreements, it’s not about trade, and it’s like cement. [hmm we really ARE mired in cement! Mcat]Once the cement dries in these agreements, you can’t change the rules, unless all the agreement—all the other countries agree to amend the agreement.
So what we’re talking about with this leaked chapter is literally a parallel system of justice. People have domestic laws and courts, trying to defend our rights and get our needs met. Corporations would have a parallel system of private attorneys, three of them, no conflict-of-interest laws. The U.S. and the other countries would submit themselves to the jurisdiction of this corporate kangaroo court, and these three random attorneys would have the right to order the U.S. government to pay unlimited amounts of our tax dollars to corporations and investors who, A, claim regulatory costs need to be refunded, or, B, are saying they’re not being treated well enough, regardless if the policies they dislike are the exact same ones that apply to all of us. Even under NAFTA’s system, which has some of this, $350 million have already been paid out to corporations by governments, over toxics bans, zoning laws, timber rules. This is a sneaky outrage. And if people actually put a spotlight on it, we can stop it.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: So, Lori, I wanted to ask you—you mentioned the eight nations that are involved in the negotiations. Which nations are they? And also, the issue of the way this is being negotiated, the number could expand dramatically in the future. Can you talk about that?
LORI WALLACH:Well, the reason why it is so incredibly important that this agreement be exposed is this could well be the last agreement that’s negotiated. So, many of your listeners and viewers have been involved in the sneaky way trade agreements have been used by corporations to limit regulation and to foster a race to the bottom since NAFTA. And each of these agreements has gotten bolder, more expansive in its limits on government regulation and in its granting of corporate powers. This one could be the end, because what they intend to do is leave it open, once it’s done, for any other country to join. So, this is an agreement that ultimately could have the whole world in it as a set of binding corporate guarantees of new rights and privileges, enforced with cash sanctions and trade sanctions. It is not an exaggeration to say that the TPP threatens to become a regime of binding global governance, right at the time that the Occupy movement and movements around the world are demanding more power and control. This is the fightback. This is locking in the bad old way plus.
And in addition, the way that the agreement is being negotiated, these rules would require that you not only change all of your existing laws—so good progressive laws would have to be gotten rid of—but that, in the future, you don’t create new laws.
Now, the agreement now includes Australia, Brunei, New Zealand, Singapore, Chile, Peru and Vietnam, as well as the U.S., plus Malaysia has now joined. [as we are best new buddies with the mil AND Our Girl in Myanmar... Mcat]
And the agreement includes all of the NAFTA-style privileges that promote offshoring. But more drastically, it has all sorts of new corporate privileges, so the right to extend medicine and seed monopolies to jack up medicine prices, even the right to challenge formularies, medicine prescription group buying plans. For instance, what the Obama administration has put in their health reform bill, they are at the negotiating table behind closed doors trying to kill the right to use for other countries.
Or the financial rules would have just a limit. Countries aren’t allowed to ban risky financial products or services, at the same time that we’re trying to issue regulations under financial reform. And the agreement even meddles with how we spend our local tax dollars. For folks around the country who are doing sweat-free campaigns, who are doing living wage campaigns, green buying campaigns, this agreement says, A, you can’t have local preferences, so no “buy New York” state preference to recycle money back in your state, your tax dollars, no “buy American,” but also conditions like a product has to have recycled content or that that uniform has to be sweat-free. Those kind of conditions can be challenged. It is an incredible corporate power tool. It’s only gotten this far because it’s been secret. And people in the other countries don’t want it either. But our country is the one that’s largely pushing the most radical provisions, which is why it was so important for this text, which everyone can see an analysis of at tradewatch.org, to be made public, to make people aware of what’s really going on.
AMY GOODMAN: Lori, the last round of negotiations on the trade agreement took place in Dallas. While there, Obama’s appointed trade representative, Ron Kirk, spoke at an event for the local business community. The Yes Men took the opportunity to present Kirk, the former mayor of Dallas, with a mock award. This is a clip.
GIT HAVERSALL: Hello. Thank you so much for being here. My name is Git Haversall. And on behalf of the Texas Corporate Power Partnership, we are very, very pleased to announce that the U.S. trade negotiators are the winners of our 2012 Corporate Power Tool Award. I would like to personally thank the negotiators for their relentless efforts. The TPP agreement is shaping up to be a great way for us to maximize our profits, regardless of what the public of this nation or any other nation thinks is right.
AMY GOODMAN: The next round of negotiations on TPP are scheduled over the July 4th holiday weekend. Lori Wallach, can you comment on this? And also, what I assume would be President Obama’s response, if talking behind the scenes, like perhaps tonight when he’s going to be at Sarah Jessica Parker house with—with raising a lot of money—the financial sector is donating $37 million to Mitt Romney so far, the Obama administration’s haul, $4.8 million—that even his own Wall Street supporters are going over to Romney right now, so he would say he is doing better than Romney would in trying to take on these guys.
LORI WALLACH: I think that, for President Obama, there are two scenarios. One is, he has not been on top of what these negotiators are doing. [oh puhleese - Mcat] This really has been under the radar. It’s so important that the text finally came out, because it sends a warning to Congress, to the public, etc., and that basically he’s got negotiators on the loose. They are many of the same people who during the Clinton administration got us into NAFTA, that recycled back into the trade negotiating team. The other alternative explanation is just the money one, which is, it is the case that this is an agreement the 1 percent loves. This is sort of one-percenter fantasy. It’s not just that on the margins and in national governments you have to keep fighting with all your money and lobbying to try and get what you want; this would lock it in for the future, indefinitely.
AMY GOODMAN: Lori Wallach, we want to thank you very much for being with us, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. And we will continue to watch this.
This is Democracy Now! When we come back, whistleblower Jesselyn Radack on what a number in Congress are calling national security leaks. Stay with us.
Memento mori 28 May 2012Posted by marisacat in 2012 Re Election, Culture of Death, Inconvenient Voice of the Voter, Israel/AIPAC, Total fucking lunatics, WAR!.
A man strolls past a red flamboyant tree on a street in Hai Phong, Vietnam. Red flamboyant is the symbol of Hai Phong, which is also named ‘The city of the red flamboyant’. According to tradition, summer has arrived when flamboyant flowers bloom. | Luong Thai Linh/EPA
“Red flamboyant” beats “rockets red glare…” And it beats most of what is in MSM today for Memorial Day. Such dreck on view. So supportive of war, loaded with knee jerk obeisance to the military….
Is it Slob who is muttering “time for Syria” ? I guess so: Commander-in-Chief. And all that.
Long term, I don’t think we survive ‘war forever – forever war’.
No need… 15 April 2012Posted by marisacat in 2012 Re Election, Culture of Death, Democrats, Inconvenient Voice of the Voter, Total fucking lunatics.
Turbaco, Colombia: A donkey foal is dressed as the mascot of the US Democrats to welcome Barack Obama to the VI America’s Summit to be held in nearby Cartagena | Joaquin Sarmiento /Reuters
No need to comment, really. Why make even a lame ‘jackass’ joke and insult the donkeys, mules, asses and so forth of the world.
I had nearly given up on finding a pic tonight, when this appeared in a gallery of the current 24 hour cycle at the Guardian.
We are blessed! And it shows.
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It’s hard… 30 November 2011Posted by marisacat in 2012 Re Election, Culture of Death, DC Politics, Inconvenient Voice of the Voter, Pakistan, Total fucking lunatics, WAR!.
The White House hasn’t had success brightening relations between the two countries. | AP Photo
It’s hard out there for a pretzel. Especially one in the “brightening” business (who made up that line?!).
From the Politico article… firing on all engines it seems:
[“W]e have shown the limits of what carrots-only can do” as an approach, former Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair said Monday during an Aspen Institute forum in Washington. “In early 2010, under the energetic leadership of Richard Holbrooke, the United States put together a very large and comprehensive assistance program for Pakistan. … It turned out to be too much. Pakistan choked on some of it and didn’t believe the rest.”
Blair said the carrots the Obama team offered to Pakistan coincided with some progress — followed by substantial backsliding. . . . .
Covers all the bases: We tried for the ungrateful Pakis, but too hard… too many carrots no sticks. We were too good for them! Who knew. Our man in Islamabad died from the effort but before he died, he was very energetic (what a fucking crock).
We’re not believable – because we try too hard! – but we did manage to slap some sense into the renegade Pakis. Then, somehow, it was all sloppy muddy at the top of the mountain and we slid back down to a ruined base camp.
Makes about as much sense as the quotes in the report.
Options 25 November 2011Posted by marisacat in 2012 Re Election, Afghanistan War, AFRICOM, Culture of Death, DC Politics, Inconvenient Voice of the Voter, Iran, Iraq War, Israel/AIPAC, Moscow, NORCOM, Pakistan, Total fucking lunatics, WAR!.
Don’t worry! It can’t be the twilight of the American Empire, we still have options for war…. that table, the one reserved for war options, is loaded to the gills!!! We never empty that table…
You want Northern War? Southern War (always tasty! and a bonifide Reagan favorite!)? War in the East?! War in the West ??? Or, best for last… multidirectional war: Iran and China!!
We have options.
Snicker Snax…. a second cartoon in the gallery also dealt with sabre rattling at China, employing a wicked satire of Slob. YUM.
Historic 16 November 2011Posted by marisacat in 2012 Re Election, Culture of Death, DC Politics, Inconvenient Voice of the Voter, Lie Down Fall Down Dems, Total fucking lunatics, WAR!.
Taiz, Yemen: A woman holds up a mortar projectile during a demonstration against President Saleh. The shell has allegedly been fired by forces loyal to Saleh during recent clashes with opposition fighters [Khaled Abdullah/Reuters]
Historic! … and not the way Slob and his slobbery cadres planned… 2010 and 2011 WILL go down as historic… with Slob as the shitty little gate-keeper, dressed in some retro formal butler uniform. He strikes me as so happy to serve!
I heard a very frightening thing today… Unpaid college loans can haunt you into your retirement years. They may indeed go after your Social Security. It is legal now to do that…. People who owe these horrific amounts of money will never never never get out from under it.
This was so planned, to thieve and steal and dupe the American people.
But let’s talk about the rats in the Occupies. Riight.
Ten 6 October 2011Posted by marisacat in 2012 Re Election, Afghanistan War, Culture of Death, Inconvenient Voice of the Voter, WAR!.
October 7, 2001: Afterburners create streaks of light during catapult launches from the flight deck aboard USS Enterprise as US Navy fighter aircraft depart for the first strike missions over Afghanistan. Picture: US Navy / Todd A. Bent / REUTERS
Ten long and lousy years.
Nuclear 16 September 2011Posted by marisacat in 2012 Re Election, Culture of Death, Inconvenient Voice of the Voter, Moscow, Total fucking lunatics.
August 1987: The village of Kopachi is buried, house by house. It was located 7km from the Chernobyl reactor that housed the control room and decontamination area in the months after the disaster. A bulldozer would dig a large trench in front of each house before burying the building and covering it with earth and flattening the soil. Entire villages would be buried this way Photograph: Igor Kostin/Corbis
From a gallery at the Guardian on Chernobyl.
Nutty 20 August 2011Posted by marisacat in Abortion Rights, Culture of Death, Inconvenient Voice of the Voter, Sex / Reproductive Health, Spain, Total fucking lunatics, Viva La Revolucion!.
A protester shows a pilgrim a condom who in turn shows him a cross during a demonstration in Madrid REUTERS/Susana Vera
Nutty as fruitcakes, fruit loops… face off in Madrid, between the weeping, swooning pilgrims… and the anti-Papist protesters…
If you hurry you can confess your abortion(s)!! Looks inviting doesn’t it?
Priests listen to confessions at temporary confessionals set up at Madrid’s Buen Retiro park, ahead of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Spain PEDRO ARMESTRE/AFP/Getty Images
Straw Polls 13 August 2011Posted by marisacat in 2012 Re Election, Culture of Death, DC Politics, Inconvenient Voice of the Voter, India, Lie Down Fall Down Dems, Sex / Reproductive Health, Total fucking lunatics.
New Delhi, India: An Indian Muslim girl waits for noon prayers to begin at the Jama Masjid mosque [Kevin Frayer/AP]
hmm… for the moment, she is allowed to be a turquoise flower… soon enough the black robing will get slapped on her.
Ah, religion. Succor of the masses.
On the same issue, USA!! USA!! style…I see reports around that the entrance of Perry, The Hair from Texas, means that the “culture wars are back”.
They were gone?
Somebody believed that blither last year from Mitch Daniels? Something something about setting aside the social issues?
Yeah right, as if they OR the Fucking Democrats ever planned to do that.
Take a moment and feel the cement hardening around us.